My life has been emptied of God when I realized that nothing was ever going to be allowed outside enforced social structures. Religion in the northern Italian province was always a matter of good middle-class behaviour and youth control. Churches smelled of incense and holiness but nobody seemed to notice the disturbing presence of the divine as it murmured in the darkness. All I wanted was to touch the holy water and feel the ancient mystery penetrating through the pores of my skin. I still hold on to the belief that sacredness is terrifyingly material, and that there was something lurking in that dusty, infected water – the slimy substance of divinity itself. I did not care for words and meaning but only for the hidden laws of sacred stuff, the fetishistic power of relics and the chemical miracles of martyr blood. As the priest lifted the consecrated Host towards the sky, I dreamed to glimpse through the gem-encrusted cheap silver of the tabernacle to see the naked matter of the body of Christ.
I think of religion as of something that was torn away from me, like some kind of innate behaviour that was distorted and polluted to a point of no return. It is not a longing for meaning but for ritual, impersonal communion and mindless repetition. I feel like we have been conditioned to think of religion as a way to get easy answers to essentially human questions, but religion was never supposed to have anything to do with us. I think of titanic flames burning in the night, countless lives devoted to protecting the meaningless process of perpetual combustion. The futility of modern monotheisms is perfectly represented by their obsession with the problem of the existence of god. Believers and non-believers alike are all perpetually busy wondering whether they guessed the right answer to this absolutely pointless question. In paganism divinity becomes self-evident; the question is not whether it exists but what it is capable of. Sacred fires can bring boundless prosperity or doom entire civilizations to collapse. Where are our sacred fires burning? Who, if anyone at all, is feeding the flames? We are out of touch, trapped in the delirious dream of a civilization in control of itself. Institutional religion slowly transformed into a question of building our own personal relationship with God, a way to make sense of a life of meaningless pain, devoted to the only dogma of capitalist production and reproduction. The only truth is superstition, the most primitive form of magic, working its way into our lives without us ever noticing. Superstition in its most basic form builds networks connecting matter to the divine, or, rather, it engineers the divine as an emerging property of networks of matter.
I feel sad most of the time. This is not because the current state of things makes me feel powerless but because I am strangled by the feeling that I have to make sense of things. Making sense means constantly having to build structures that create and allocate value. This is a personal duty that we all have to face daily, and we have to face it alone; the more sense we make, the more isolated we get. Vestal virgins tended to the fire because the fire needed to burn. We are now horrified by the thought of such primitive superstitions, that led to young girls being buried alive because they were thought to have violated their sacred duties. I sometimes wonder if they would pity us, and our miserable lives so full of personal meanings. Maybe we need religion more than meaning. I, too, am fascinated by the idea of god-designing and neo-paganism as constructive approaches to build new forms of community. Neo-rituals should be dramatic and open to all. Devotion should be impersonal and improductive, bleeding into all aspects of communal life.